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Vinegar, Eggs and Salt

311. The Commission had before it a background paper on Vinegar, Eggs and Salt (ALINORM 74/32) prepared by the Secretariat.


312. At its Ninth Session the Commission had confirmed the need for a justification paper for the consideration of standards for various types of vinegar, as proposed by the Coordinating Committee for Europe at its Ninth Session. The data, which had been presented in the document, had been taken mainly from the relevant regulations of European countries. The paper dealt with matters related to the denomination of the product. Furthermore some information had been given on the various types of vinegar, their manufacture, characteristics and composition. Methods of analysis and restrictive regulations concerning production and trade were also mentioned. Due to lack of comprehensive trade figures the Secretariat could not determine whether a world-wide interest in standards for vinegar existed.

313. The delegate of Canada, supported by the delegation of Italy and several other delegations, expressed the opinion that the Commission should give careful consideration to the need for standards for new commodities in the light of the work priorities criteria set out in the Commission's Procedural Manual. He drew attention to the limited budget of the Commission which would probably not allow for the establishment of entirely new Commodity Committees.

314. The possibility of establishing standards on a European basis was discussed. The delegate from Austria pointed out that the need for a standard was manifest in Europe because there was no clear understanding on the meaning of the denomination vinegar. He suggested that the Coordinating Committee for Europe could continue investigations on the product. The delegations of France, Italy, Poland and Spain expressed the view that standards for wine vinegar should be developed as European standards, and should the need arise the work could be extended to cover world-wide requirements. The delegate of Iran and a number of delegations from non-European countries pointed out their interest in vinegar and were of the opinion that if the Commission were to agree to the commencement of work on standards, then it would be important to decide whether such work be done on a world-wide or European regional basis.

315. The Commission concluded that there appeared to be no urgent need for standards, but the Secretariat was requested to continue to gather information on vinegar in order to determine the need and geographic coverage of standards for vinegar. In particular, the Secretariat was requested to prepare a questionnaire to obtain trade figures on (a) products for direct consumption and (b) vinegars used as ingredients in other foodstuffs (e.g. pickles) and to place a revised working paper before the 11th Session of the Commission.


316. The Commission had before it ALINORM 74/32, Part II of which contained, inter alia, information, in accordance with the request made at its Ninth Session (ALINORM 72/35, para 236) on the progress of the work currently being carried out by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe concerning standards for eggs and egg products.

The Commission was informed by the Secretariat that the Economic Commission for Europe was currently elaborating standards for the following products: (i) eggs in shell fit for direct human consumption; (ii) fresh eggs in shell for processing; and (iii) chilled eggs in shell. The Commission noted that the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene had, at its Eleventh Session (10-14 June 1974) advanced the Draft Code of Hygienic Practice for Egg Products to Step 8 of the Procedure. The Commission was also informed about the activities of the International Egg Commission which also included the publication of half-yearly bulletins giving statistical information on world-wide trade for eggs and egg products.

317. The delegations of the United States of America and Australia drew attention to the importance of the international trade in egg products, more especially dried egg products and frozen liquid egg products. It was noted that these products were intended, almost entirely, for further processing, and not for direct consumption. The main consideration with egg products, from the point of view of consumer protection, concerned the matter of possible risks arising from inadequate hygiene in the production of the products.

318. The matter of hygiene was, however, being dealt with and the Commission noted that the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene, at its most recent session, had advanced the Code of Hygienic Practice for Egg Products to Step 8.

319. The Commission decided that in view of the work being done by other international organizations on the standardization of eggs in shell, notably the UNECE, there was no need for the Commission to undertake work in this field. The Commission also decided that so far as egg products were concerned, the area in which the consumer needed protection - hygiene - was already well covered by the work of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene.


320. The Commission noted that the Secretariat had contacted the Comité européen d'études du sel as requested by the 9th Session of the Commission to prepare a background document on the subject of salt. The Comité européen had advised that it was unable to assist the Secretariat in advance of the 10th Session but would consider this matter at its next plenary meeting.

321. Several delegation emphasized the need for a background paper on salt, in particular covering table salt as sold directly to the consumer, salt as a food ingredient and indicated that a paper along the lines of the one prepared on vinegar would be of interest to the Commission.

322. The Commission agreed that the Secretariat should proceed with the preparation, for its next session, of a paper on salt on a world-wide basis including as much information as possible on international trade in the product and details of national legislations.

Consideration of Paper on Coffee, Coffee Products and Substitutes

323. The document ALINORM 74/29 and Corrigendum which had been prepared by the delegation of France in liaison with the Association scientifique internationale du café was introduced by Mr. Souverain (France).

324. The Commission had, at its 9th Session, considered the document “Coffee and the Consumer” which had been first prepared in 1970 and later revised to take into account comments received from a number of countries and international organizations. This document was a comprehensive study of factors affecting the world-wide trade in and consumption of coffee and coffee products and substitutes.

325. The Commission had examined the possibility and priorities of establishing a standard for coffee, taking into consideration the work already accomplished by ISO and other international organizations and the importance of consumer protection. The Commission had agreed that a supplementary document should be prepared which would examine more particularly the priorities to be assigned to establishing coffee standards and the present paper was prepared for this purpose. The criteria set out in the Procedural Manual of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (“Criteria for the Establishment of Work Priorities and for the Establishment of Subsidiary Bodies of the Codex Alimentarius Commission”) were used as a basis for the study.

Consumer Protection

326. With regard to the question of consumer protection it was pointed out that the coffee plant was subject to attak by numerous parasites both insect and microbiological and the pesticides used as protection resulted in residues for which maximum limits must be fixed. In addition the beans themselves could be contaminated by foreign matter including organic detritus, by mildew and by mycotoxins and by residues from fumigation by toxic gases. In the case of decaffeinated coffee, residues of extraction solvents used such as methylene chloride, ethylene dichloride and trichloroethylene also called for regulatory measures.

327. The paper drew attention to the fact that coffee was not a nutritive product but was taken because of its sensory and stimulant qualities. The stimulant element was generally considered to be caffeine and in the case of the decaffeinated product maximum limits for caffeine content should be prescribed.

Protection against fraud

328. With regard to fraudulent practices, this in general did not present a hazard to health, but any adulteration of coffee and false claims in labelling would be prejudicial to consumer interests and protective regulations should be established by governments. There existed classes and qualities of coffee which were not defined in national legislation. A glossary of terms had been compiled by ISO which was helpful in this respect.

Economic Factors

329. These were set out in the Secretariat document (Coffee and the Consumer ALINORM 72/9). Compared with other agricultural primary products, the quantity of green coffee produced was relatively small (4,3 million metric tons in 1972) but its value was very high and world prices were still increasing.

National Regulations

330. Although there was a diversity of regulations there was some uniformity in their protection of the term “coffee” and a clear distinction was made between coffee and coffee products. Protection of the term “coffee” frequently consisted of definitions of permissible types and percentages of impurities. Moisture content and pesticide residue tolerances were also sometimes fixed.

Activities of International Organizations

331. Details of the activities of the ISO Working Group TC 34 chaired by Brazil had already been given in ALINORM 72/9.

332. In addition the Commission of the EEC had submitted on 29 March 1973 a draft directive to the Council of Ministers, which covered extracts of coffee and their substitutes with regard to analysis, definitions, requirements for authorized solvents, packaging and labelling requirements.

Feasibility of Standardization

333. The necessity for standardization of green coffee was discussed first. A number of delegations, whilst recognizing the work of ISO, were nevertheless of the opinion that standardization of both coffee and coffee products should be undertaken by a Codex Committee. Other delegations considered that this could result in duplication of work by the Codex Alimentarius Commission with that of ISO. Many delegations were not in favour of establishing standards for green coffee. The question of pesticides was already being dealt with by the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues and the work of ISO on green coffee could, if necessary, be considered by the Codex at a later stage. The necessity of close liaison with ISO was emphasized. The delegation of USA, whilst pointing out that the USA was a large importer and was interested in standards from the point of view of health and fraudulent practices, was of the opinion that the work of ISO and the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues was proceeding satisfactorily and that the Codex Alimentarius Commission should not undertake work on standards for coffee and coffee products at the present time.

The delegation of Brazil stated that the functions of ISO and Codex were quite different and that ISO was at present only concerned with green coffee. The delegate of Brazil was strongly in favour of Codex standards for coffee and coffee products. Other delegations pointed out that ISO standards were voluntary and did not have the regulatory value of Codex standards, both with regard to health and to trade. However, it was noted that in some countries it was on the basis of recommendations of national standards bodies which were involved in the work of ISO, that national legislation was enacted.

334. The Secretariat informed the Commission that ISO had already advised the Codex Alimentarius Commission at its 9th session that it intended to avoid any duplication with the work of Codex Committees and that close cooperation existed with ISO Headquarters in Geneva. With regard to food questions generally the Working Group on Agricultural Food Products ISO/TC 34 had agreed to concentrate on raw agricultural products, in particular, definitions, sampling and methods of analysis. The Commission agreed that the elaboration of a standard for green coffee should be left to ISO.

335. Concerning coffee products, instant coffee and decaffeinated coffee, and the items for standardization which had been suggested in the paper presented by the French delegation (ALINORM 74/29) some delegations thought that such work should be undertaken by a Codex Committee. The question was raised as to whether there was sufficient world trade in these products. Among the suggestions made by various delegations for standardization were the proportion of coffee in mixtures and the nature of the non-coffee components; methods of decaffeination; chemical compounds such as dispersing and wetting agents: in the case of decaffeinated coffee - solvent residue limits, maximum permitted concentration of caffeine.

336. A number of delegations thought that the subject of coffee products did warrant the Commission embarking on the elaboration of standards. On the other hand, the question of the extent of international trade was again raised by other delegations and in particular, whether the standardization of coffee products was really a priority subject. Several delegations reminded the Commission that the EEC was considering standards which might well prove acceptable for inclusion in the Codex Alimentarius, in which case it would be possible to leave the matter in abeyance.

337. After further discussion it was clear that opinion was divided within the Commission on whether or not standards were necessary for coffee products. The Commission further noted that no government had offered to host a Codex Committee. In this connection, the question was raised as to what would be the procedure to be followed if the Commission wished to embark upon the elaboration of standards in circumstances where no government had made an offer to host a Codex Committee to carry out the work. It was explained that under the Rules of Procedure of the Commission it would be necessary for FAO/WHO to approach Members of the Commission to endeavour to find a host government. The Commission noted this position.

338. Several delegations insisted that as a matter of principle there should be standards for coffee products which would protect the consumer against fraudulent practices. Others pointed out that while accepting, in principle, this argument, in view of priorities with existing commitments, they thought it would be unwise to go further unless the matter was considered to be of the utmost importance. They drew attention to the fact that the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues and the Codex Committee on Food Additives covered many of the aspects of consumer protection.

339. The Commission concluded:

  1. a Codex standard for green coffee was not necessary;

  2. it was not possible to reach agreement as to whether standards for coffee products were necessary and therefore adjouned the discussion sine die, but recognizing that it would be open to any member of the Commission to suggest reconsideration of the subject of standards for these products.

340. The delegation of Cuba wished its reservation on this decision to be recorded.

Establishment of Codex Committee on Soups

341. The Commission had before it document ALINORM 74/9, which had been prepared by the delegation of Switzerland and which contained a preliminary draft standard for soups and broths. The paper was introduced by the Rapporteur, Mr. H.U. Pfister (Switzerland), who drew attention to the historical background to the presentation of the preliminary draft standard by the Swiss delegation, which was set forth in detail in the introductory section of the paper. He also drew the Commission's attention to the fact that the Executive Committee, at its 19th Session in July 1973, had had before it a report prepared by Switzerland on the subject of standards for soups and broths, as had been requested by the 7th Session of the Commission. The Executive Committee had considered that the report answered all the requirements laid down in the criteria for new work established by the Commission.

342. The preliminary draft standard which was before the Commission had been elaborated by Switzerland jointly with the International Association of the Broth and Soup Industry which comprised 13 countries. The attention of the Commission was drawn to the extensive international trade in these products. The rapporteur concluded by reiterating the willingness of the Government of Switzerland to host a Codex Committee on Soups and Broths if the Commission should decide to establish such a Committee.

343. The great majority of delegations expressed their strong interest in the establishment of standards for these prducts and supported the proposal to establish a Codex Committee for this purpose. The delegation of Argentina stated that the standards for broths (cubes) should cover also the different varieties and other forms of presentation, such as soups, consommés and creamy type products, etc. There were a very small number of delegations which had reservations about the need to embark on standards for soups and broths, either because they thought that standards for such products were hardly a practicable idea, or because they did not ascribe a high order of priority to this work. None of these delegations however, expressed themselves as being opposed to the establishment of a Codex Committee on Soups and Broths.

344. While some delegations from Asia drew the attention of the Commission to the fact that the proposed text of the product definition was so wide that it would unduly cover such foods as “Instant Noodle” which was widely consumed as a snack and not called “soup” in the Region. A number of other countries from the regions of Asia and Africa drew attention to the need for the Committee to cover in its work products which were widely consumed in those regions but which might not be covered by the existing scope of the standard: the work of the Committee should therefore be truly world-wide in scope. Other delegations raised the question of whether it would be practicable to cover such an extensive range of products in one standard and thought that it might perhaps be necessary to have possibly group standards.

345. The attention of the Commission was drawn to the fact that the existing preliminary draft standard did not provide for a full list of ingredients to be shown on the labels of these products. The delegations of Poland and Czechoslovakia expressed the view that the work of the Committee should be extended at a later stage to cover products such as sauces, desserts and puddings, etc.

346. The Commission decided to establish a Codex Committee on Soups and Broths under the chairmanship of the Government of Switzerland with the following terms of reference:

“To elaborate world-wide standards for soups, broths, bouillons and consommés, as appropriate.”

The preliminary draft standard should be sent to governments for comments and for information on their national legislation governing these products.


347. The Commission had before it a paper entitled “Tea and the Consumer” (ALINORM 74/30) prepared by the Secretariat.

348. At its Ninth Session, the Commission had requested the Secretariat, in accordance with the “Possible Programme of Work of the Commission for the Next Ten Years”, which had been discussed at the Seventh Session of the Commission, to prepare a background paper on tea, which would be presented to the Commission at its Tenth Session.

349. Document ALINORM 74/30 reflected the replies of Member Countries to a questionnaire on data concerning technology, standards and legislation for tea and tea products.

350. The paper drew the attention of the Commission to the standardization work carried out by other organizations such as ISO. It also covered the matters contained in the work criteria of the Procedural Manual of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

351. The proposal was made by the delegate of Nigeria, supported by various other delegations, to determine as a first step the need for elaborating standards for tea and tea products and then to proceed with the discussion on financial and administative matters for the establishment of a new Codex Commodity Committee, if required.

352. Several delegations were of the opinion that the elaboration of standards for tea and tea products would be appreciated by their countries.

353. Considerable discussion took place as to whether the ISO Final Working Group Draft of a Specification for Black Tea could serve as a basis for the elaboration of a Codex Standard, or whether it should be looked upon only as a trade standard. It was noted that the ISO draft did not include provisions to protect the health of the consumer, such as limits for contaminants and pesticide residues.

354. The delegation of Canada stated that ISO should be requested to continue its work on instant tea and that it would be advisable for the Commission to obtain exact figures on the volume of international trade of this product.

355. The Commission concluded that as many delegations appeared to be interested in standards for tea and tea products, the following action should be taken:

  1. The Secretariat be requested to present the latest version of the ISO Final Working Group Draft of a specification for Black Tea in the format for Codex Standards.

  2. The Secretariat should, when the draft of the ISO Standard for Instant Tea was completed, follow the same procedure as under (a).

  3. The Codex Committee on Food Additives and Pesticide Residues and WHO should study the question of limits for contaminants and pesticide residues in Black Tea.

  4. In order for the Commission to determine whether the work currently undertaken by ISO on the standardization of Black Tea and Instant Tea was suitable for Codex purposes, the Secretariat should seek the opinion of Member Countries on (a) and (b) and should put the views of government authorities before the 11th Session of the Commission.

Consideration of the Need for Establishing and Feasibility of Standards for Wines

356. The Commission had before it a document prepared by the Secretariat (ALINORM 74/31). In introducing the paper, the Secretariat informed the Commission that, as a result of the recommendations of an Intergovernmental Group on Wine and Wine Products (of the FAO Committee on Commodity Problems) which met in Eger, Hungary, in September 1972, a questionnaire had been issued by FAO to governments in order to obtain information on:

  1. manufacture and trade in wines;
  2. manufacture and trade in spirituous liquors; and
  3. legislation on these.

Sixteen replies had been received on the basis of which the paper had been prepared. The delegation of Argentina stated that it sent its reply in good time to the Chief of the Food Standards Programme and that it could make known the text of its communication. Replies from governments indicated support for the elaboration of Codex standards for wine by a Codex Committee in close cooperation with OIV and EEC.

357. In discussing the Secretariat paper, a number of delegations expressed themselves against the establishment of Codex standards for wines and pointed out, among other things, that:

  1. the composition of wines was subject to variation depending on a number of factors such as soil, climates, methods of cultivation, fermentation and treatment;
  2. wine was a special and sometimes a luxury item which should represent low priority in the programme of work of the Commission;
  3. wine did not lend itself easily to standardization in terms of physicochemical criteria.

358. Other delegations were in favour of the Commission undertaking work on the standardization of wines, pointing out that:

  1. standards could be elaborated for these products as had been done by the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) which had based its work on the recommendations of the OIV;
  2. wines needed definition by means of standards in order to prevent adulteration and other fraudulent practices and also to describe the type of raw materials which could be used in its preparation (e.g. palm sap instead of grape juice was being used in certain parts of the world); and
  3. wines were not drugs but should be regarded as food utilized in human metabolism.

359. The delegation of Israel suggested that OIV should be requested to elaborate standards for wines, which could be considered by the Commission at a future session.

360. The delegation of Canada, supported by the delegation of Sudan, raised the question whether alcoholic beverages should be the subject of Codex standards appearing under the aegis of WHO, particularly in view of the policy of WHO regarding alcoholism and that the Codex Alimentarius Commission should not proceed with the elaboration of standards for wines and spirits until the fundamental question raised by WHO's policy on drug dependence and alcoholism, in relation to the establishment of Codex standards for wines, had been considered by WHO. The representative of WHO confirmed that WHO had an expert committee dealing with drug dependence and alcoholism which had considered the latter problem. He indicated that WHO's position regarding the excessive intake of alcohol and the problem of alcoholism had been publicized.

361. The delegation of Norway drew the Commission's attention to the several pesticides, quoted in the paper, used on grapes, and posed the question as to whether these pesticides left residues in wine. It was pointed out that, while some information was available on pesticide residues on grapes and also in grape juice, very little data was available on pesticide residues in wines. OIV was invited to supply any data on pesticide residues in wine to the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues.

362. The representative of OIV informed the Commission that his organization had 28 members and represented 90% of the world production of wine. OIV had been cooperating with FAO since 1948. It did not intend to establish standards for wines but intended to continue to study the problems related to wine production and preservation, as well as problems concerning “appellation d'origine”. OIV had drawn up various oenological codes and standard methods of analysis which it kept up-to-date. OIV was willing to cooperate with the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

363. The Commission agreed that wines and spirits should not be subject to Codex standards and decided not to proceed further with this question.

Cereals and Cereal Products

364. The Commission had before it ALINORM 74/33 which was prepared and introduced by the Secretariat.

365. The reason for the study derived from a list of proposals which the Executive Committee of the Codex Alimentarius Commission reported to the Commission as possible new subjects for Commodity Standards (ALINORM 70/3, para. 8).

366. Among them were three groups of products which the Executive Committee considered could usefully be grouped together - Cereal Products, Corn Products and Tropical Tubers and Tuber Products. Modified Starches were already being considered by the Codex Committee of Food Additives. The Committee agreed that raw grains other than grains intended for direct human consumption should not be included.

367. After a brief résumé of this document, the Secretariat quoted the conclusion in full as follows:

368. “It is evident that the quality of grain and flour moving in international trade is well regulated by international, national and private organizations. National grain regulatory bodies are operative in all producing countries and on an international scale ISO and ICC cooperate with a number of interested organizations in the standardization and harmonization of methods of analysis and other aspects of quality control.

369. The uses of flour for human consumption are also further regulated in the final products such as bread, biscuits, alimentary pasta, etc., in the national legislation of many countries.

370. Products which are less well controlled and which constitute important items of the diet in many developing countries are those which are prepared in the country and sold internally. These probably need most control, both from the point of view of quality and hygienic handling and are the most difficult to regulate, and in many cases would have to await the establishment of a complete system of food control for proper regulation and prevention of such abuses as adulteration.

371. One approach which would help to define the problem would be to prepare a questionnaire on the types of grain or tubers eaten locally, the quantities involved, methods of manufacture or preparation and existing regulations both for starting materials and finished products. From the replies it could be established whether or not there is a case for the elaboration of standards and which matters such standards might cover.”

372. Considerable interest was expressed by a large number of delegations in the establishment of standards for cereal and cereal products. The delegation of Italy, which is represented in the Executive Committee of the International Association for Cereal Chemistry, declared that the ICC, which had many groups working on analytical standards, relating to quality, hygiene, etc., were ready to cooperate with the Codex Alimentarius. Italy, for its part, was very much in favour of the establishment of Codex standards.

373. According to the delegation of Italy, it would be appropriate to separate wheat from rice, both in the questionnaire and also for the purposes of a Committee, since each of these two products has its own extremely important role in the world food supply.

374. The delegation of Canada pointed out that the conclusion of the Study asked for a questionnaire on grain and tubers eaten locally. This by itself might be useful but would not answer the question of their significance in the international trade and whether to develop international Codex standards. As stated also in the conclusion the bulk trade in cereal grains was already adequately regulated by government agencies. The questionnaire should also ask if there was international trade in grain or other products for direct use by consumers, such as milled or polished rice, cereal products and flour and cereal and other starches.

375. The delegation of France said that the Mediterranean Conference of CIIAA in Athens earlier in the year considered a paper on international regulations for cereal products and it was clear that while there was a good deal being done with regard to regulatory matters and the standardization of analytical methods in many countries, standards of the Codex type did not exist. The delegation of France strongly supported the idea of the establishment of Codex Standards for cereal products.

376. The delegation of Kenya noted that the conclusion did not mention specifically whether hygienic factors were taken into account by the organizations regulating international trade in grains and flour. The Commission noted that these aspects were in fact well controlled both for cereals and cereal products. Kenya was interested in establishing standards by reason of its trade in cereals with the other members of the East African Community. The delegations of other African countries stated that there was considerable interregional trade in such staples as sorghum, millet, durra and tubers and that there was a real and urgent need for regulations since imported cereals were not always of good quality. The delegation of Senegal drew the Commission's attention to the danger, from the health point of view, represented by the marketing in increasing quantities in many developing countries of polished rice - polished to more than 25%. The delegation indicated that it had already been observed that this practice was at the source of the incidence of beri-beri and that WHO should look into this problem.

377. The Commission concluded that there was strong support for the establishment of standards for cereals and cereal products but that as a preliminary step towards standardization, more information was needed on the trade in cereals and cereal products, tubers and starches for direct human consumption. The Commission decided that the Secretariat should prepare a questionnaire that would cover the points raised by delegations during the discussions. The results of this questionnaire would be analyzed in readiness for the next session of the Commission and would be a basis for deciding on which products standards should be elaborated.

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